NORTH ROYALTON — The ERA of Nick Furman has three numbers just like everyone else.
The difference? Those three are 0.00 through 14 innings this season.
Long waiting for his chance to be an ace, Furman threw his second complete game of the very young season Wednesday as the Brunswick baseball team defeated North Royalton 5-2.
The only hiccups by Furman (2-0) in the scrappy Northeast Ohio Conference River Division game were two unearned runs in the sixth following a two-out error in the infield.
“I’m just coming out here trying to throw strikes and let my teammates make plays,” Furman said. “We’ve got some young guys up in the middle — Ryan Wheeler at second and Ricky Kemp at short — making plays. It makes it easier when guys are making plays for you.”
The big right-hander with a fastball-slider combination effectively worked around six hits — five were by Nate Koran (3 singles) and Mike Jayjack (2 doubles) — and struck out seven one week after going the distance in a 2-1 win over Mayfield.
Furman bided his time behind former stars Brandon Kutrubs (2012 Gazette MVP), Kyle Michalik (now at Ohio State) and Gerry Salisbury (Ohio) as the No. 3 or 4 starter the past two seasons, waiting for the chance to show off his repertoire.
That time is now.
“He hits spots better than anyone,” third baseman Corey Welsh said. “He’s always in the strike zone. When he does that and we make plays for him, you can’t ask anything better from him.”
The Brunswick offense is inexperienced with six new starters, but did enough little things right to give Furman enough support. The Blue Devils (3-0, 1-0) scored on an RBI double and single while also pushing across runs on a groundout, fielder’s choice and sacrifice fly.
Welsh and left fielder Kyle Sasalla combined for four of the team’s seven hits, leadoff man Ryan Kuntz walked twice, No. 9 hitter Chaz Bova ripped an RBI double and Brunswick was robbed of two more runs on a backward leaping grab by North Royalton second baseman Koran.
“That’s just the way it worked out today,” Welsh said. “We’re a good hitting team.”
Brunswick took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI groundout by three-year starter Gary Clift Jr. That gave way for a duel between Furman and Bears counterpart Noah Sasse (1-1), as the pair combined to retire 17 of 19 batters over the second, third and fourth innings.
Sasse flinched first with consecutive walks to begin the fifth, and Sasala beat out a sacrifice bunt to load the bases. Freshman Jake Williams then grounded into a fielder’s choice to make it 2-0 and Bova followed with the RBI double over the head of center fielder Garrett Strom.
Brunswick pushed the ante to 4-0 in the sixth on a SAC fly by first baseman Todd Andrews, but North Royalton countered with two unearned runs in the bottom half on a two-out error and Jayjack RBI double.
Furman got out of that jam with a bases-loaded strikeout of pinch-hitter Branden Walsh. Furman later popped up Frank Fate with two men on in the seventh to slam the door.
The end result wasn’t flashy, but the something-to-prove Blue Devils like it that way.
Step one of defending their share of the NOC River Division title is complete.
“We lost seven starting seniors, which obviously doesn’t help, but we’ve got a couple young guys stepping up to the plate and ready to win some baseball games,” Furman said. “We’ve been preparing for this, and we came out and did what we needed to do.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brunswick 5, North Royalton 2
BRUNSWICK 100 021 1 — 5 7 1
NORTH ROYALTON 000 002 0 — 2 7 0
WP — Nick Furman (2-0) 7 innings, 0 earned runs, 2 walks, hit by pitch, 7 strikeouts. LP — Noah Sasse (1-1) 4⅓ innings, 3 runs, 3 earned, 4 hits, 2 walks, strikeout. Brunswick (3-0, 1-0) — Corey Welsh 2 singles; Chaz Bova double. North Royalton (2-1, 0-1) — Nate Koran 3 singles; Mike Jayjack 2 doubles.